Sunday, June 29, 2008

It Should Be Easy, But…

Have I ever bragged about my culinary skills? Well, listen up. I can bake bread from scratch: honey-whole wheat, white, oatmeal… I can even turn it into fancy dinner rolls. I make this awesome whole wheat pumpkin bread. I make my own pita bread. Cream puffs? No problem. Hand-rolled fresh gnocchi and pasta are specialties. I even make cinnamon rolls, cream cheese coffee cake, and Georgian stuffed cheese bread, a little delicacy I learned to make while in Armenia. [Here my husband will be reading with longing, and will likely want me to add: I CAN make all of these things, but I haven’t made any of them recently, thanks to the multitude of beasts running around underfoot. Yes, dear – we’ll likely be having take-out again tonight. But my point is, I COULD make you something fabulously delicious if I felt like it. Okay, back to my story.]

In short, give me a bucket of flour and I can turn it into something tasty. But I only just discovered that there is one thing too complex for me to make, something only a serious home chef should attempt. Something really best left to the experts.

Playdough.

Seriously, people, how hard can it be? It’s just flour, water, salt, oil, and maybe a bit of cream of tartar, whatever that is. There are maybe a half million recipes on the internet, usually prefaced by words like “easy” or “quick.” So when I discovered that the kids had used up our entire stash of store-bought dough, I thought it would be a quick and easy little project we could do together. You know, as a family. A happy family. A happy crafty family. A happy crafty family with loads of cool-colored dough-y dinosaurs on our kitchen table.

Well, we do have loads of cool-colored dough on our dining room table. Quite possibly forever. And it was a project we did together as a family. But what happened? Did we not cook it enough? Did we cook it too long? Did the fact that we couldn’t find any cream of tartar doom our family to a lifetime of hard purple flour-y bits glued to our table? Because the dough never really turned into dough. It stayed sticky and icky and gross, which meant the kids had a great time smearing it all over the kitchen table, despite the fact that it couldn’t be turned into an actual dinosaur.

All I know is, I can’t make playdough. Not quickly and easily, anyway.

Still, I am determined to learn. After all, the first time I attempted pizza dough, it too was a failure. So I kept trying until I could finally make a decent crust – not one to rival my Uncle Joe’s, but, you know, not bad. I figure I have a year or so before I hit American soil and buy more jumbo bins of premade playdough from the neighborhood Target (ahhh, Target… you people don’t realize how good you have it, with a Target just down the street). So I’m going to master this playdough thing. Can any of you send me your quick and easy recipes? Can anyone tell me what I can substitute for cream of tartar? Or can someone please convince me to just make a pizza instead? At least you can eat that when you’re finished, instead of scraping it into the trashcan.

And while we’re on the subject, let me just mention one more dirty little secret: I have absolutely no idea how to make jello. But I hear that’s quick and easy, too.

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